The Project approved by CDFW consists of the ITP, Major Amendments Nos. 1, 2, and 3, Minor Amendment No. 4, Major Amendments Nos. 5-25 and this Major Amendment No. 26, as referenced above and as issued by CDFW, which addresses construction and operation of the Fresno to Bakersfield segment of the HST, as approved by the lead agency, affecting or generally related to fish and wildlife resources subject to the regulatory authority of CDFW, including natural resources subject to the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The ITP authorizes incidental take of the threatened California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), San Joaquin antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus nelsoni), Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni), and San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) and the endangered Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), (collectively, the Covered Species), species designated as threatened and endangered under CESA.
Major Amendment No. 26 makes ten specific changes to the ITP, as previously amended. This Amendment increases the size of the Project Construction Footprint by 7.69 acres to a total of 6,700.27 acres of cumulative disturbance to accommodate access road installation, site preparation for the catenary switching station system location, utility relocations and protection, and other Covered Activities, updates Table 8 for Roadway and Utility Modifications by adding 7 new locations and adding acreage to 14 existing locations, updates Table 9 by adding impacts to the Covered Species Habitat Impacts types for Tipton kangaroo rat, San Joaquin antelope squirrel, Swainson’s hawk and San Joaquin kit fox resulting from the increase to the Project Construction Footprint, but also decreases the total impact to Swainson’s hawk habitat due to a re-evaluation of suitable habitat features at the time of the pre-construction surveys despite the increase in the number of nests within half a mile of the Construction Footprint, updates Table 10 to include all the known Swainson’s hawk nest trees utilized during the 2023 nesting season and makes three corrections for prior nest locations, corrects three prior Swainson’s hawk nest locations in Table 10A, updates what needs to be included in the Monthly Compliance Report in Condition of Approval 7.7, changes the due date in Condition of Approval 7.9 for the submittal of the Swainson’s Hawk Report with the nesting season details to be submitted to CDFW, allows for alternatives to current excavation coverings or ramping for animal escape in Condition of Approval 8.7, updates Table 11 and increases the required compensatory HM lands and the Performance Security amount based on the accompanying estimates of management costs required to mitigate for Covered Species impacts, modifies Exhibit 6, the “Baseline Map Book,” by replacing Map Book Pages 20, 39, 40, and 42 to reflect the increased Project Construction Footprint.